“My father never loved me. He always hit me. When my mother went to work, he would bind me and my brother to a mango tree. Sometimes when he was unhappy, or my brother and I did not look after my younger sister well, he would not let me eat rice. We could only eat after my sister and father had already eaten. He liked drinking wine every day. He always loved my younger sister, he never hit her.”
This experience, of course, scarred her deeply and, although she was able to attend a local school, she carried the trauma and fear there with her, unable to relate to those around her with trust.
“On the first day I was happy with my new friends but the second and third days I cried all the time because I was scared of my teacher and friends. I was scared that they will hit me.”
After the death of her father, Poy came to Mekhala House. When shown care and respect, she has flourished and now has the space and freedom to follow the interests of most teenagers:
“I like the super star Chhorn Sovannareach because he is very handsome man and has a sweet voice. His clothes are very fantastic. But,” – she is careful to point out – “I never forget to study.”
“Now I have a new teacher and new friends so I am very happy. In class I like reading, writing and doing my homework. When I have a break I like to play tennis and other games. My favorite subjects are Khmer, Physics and Biography. In my free time I always clean my house, read stories in Khmer or English, and listen to songs.”
Poy’s horizons and her ideas of what might be possible, with her continued hard work and commitment, have expanded beyond recognition. As to her future, she is keen to continue learning and wants to be a force for good in the neediest communities.
“I will try to study hard. I want to be a doctor and help to treat the diseases of poor people.”
With your help, more girls like Poy can find their own way out of poverty and mistreatment and achieve their potential.
*Names changed to protect the identities of the children